HAMPSTEAD – When you are playing a team that has scored over 40 points (44 vs. West Carteret and 41 vs. South Lenoir) twice and lives and dies primarily by the big play behind a stable of speedy running backs, there are plenty of reasons to worry whether they can come to town and ruin your Senior Night Celebration – especially with four sophomores and a freshman in your starting defense.
Topsail High School football Coach Bryan Davis was concerned, concerned he might wind up in a bit of a shootout with the desperate Wildcats of Richlands – whose playoff life was pretty much hanging in the balance.
But there is also a pretty good bunch of seniors on the defensive side of the ball and they took the younger Pirates under their collective wings and – as it turned out – the Pirates did most of the shooting, and the Wildcats spent a huge portion of the night going three-and-out when they weren’t turning the ball over to Topsail.
Senior Addison Futrell returned a fumble 36 yards for a touchdown, intercepted a pass, and was in on half-dozen tackles, senior Matt Gilgo had an interception and five stops, and freshman Grant McKoy came up with a late interception as Topsail delivered a 41-6 whipping to Richlands on Friday in an East Central 2A Conference football game in Hampstead shortly after honoring the band, cheerleading, cross-country, and football seniors in a Senior Night celebration.
So dominant was the defensive effort it limited the Wildcats to150 total yards of offense with 116 of those yards coming on an 80-yard touchdown run and 36 more coming on a well-executed throw and catch from Richlands’ quarterback Jamar Harrington to wide receiver Ladarius Marshall, who hauled in the throw with an excellent diving catch.
“We were concerned with their big-play abilities but in watching film they didn’t show the ability to sustain long drives so we gave them a different look defensively they hadn’t seen before in an effort to get them to run the plays we wanted them to run, and it was a testament to our kids that they executed that well,” Davis said.
The Pirates’ defense had RIchlands so confused at times they managed to net just two yards on offense in the first quarter, and a total of 31 yards in the first half.
While the Richlands’ offense was spinning its collective wheels against an inspired Tospail defense, the Pirates’ offense was efficiently, if not spectacularly, getting things done.
Three of the Pirates’ four possessions in the first half started in Richlands’ territory (40, 49, & 46 yard line) and the fourth started at the Pirates’ 42-yard line, and they took advantage on three of those four opportunities to score touchdowns.
Topsail drove 58 yards on 10 plays after receiving the opening kickoff with senior Devin Williams (17 carries, 121 yards, 3 TDs) capping the drive with a 10-yard run, and Alec Webster kicking the first of five extra points for a 7-0 lead just 3:59 into the game.
Webster’s kickoff pinned Richlands back on their own 19-yard line and a short punt set the Pirates up in business at the Wildcats’ 40-yard marker. It took six plays for Topsail to make it 14-0 – adding in a block-in-the-back penalty and a false-start penalty against the Pirates – on a two-yard burst by Williams.
It became 20-0 when Tyrekus Cooper burst into the end zone from three-yards out with 29.5 seconds left in the first half. Faced with an embarrassing total of nine yards of offense at that points, the Wildcats came up with the 36-yard pass play that gave them a first-and-goal at the Topsail 10-yard line with three seconds left in the half. A 33-yard field goal attempt went awry when a bad snap lost 14 yards on the play.
Richlands took the second-half kickoff and promptly went three-and-out, and another short punt put the ball on the Wildcats’ 40-yard line. Williams raced 17 yards on the first play and 23 yards to pay dirt on the second to increase the lead to 27-0 after just 2:50 of the second half.
McQueen gave the Wildcats a ray of hope when he outraced the Topsail defense for an 80-yard touchdown run with 1:05 left in the third quarter, and Ryan Marshall recovered an onside kick to put Richlands back in business on the ensuing kickoff. But on their second offensive play of that series Futrell picked up an errant pitch on a Richlands’ option and raced 36 yards into the end zone with 51 ticks remaining on the third-quarter clock to make it 34-6.
Sophomore quarterback Austin Schoenleber ended the scoring with a 35-yard run with 29 seconds gone in the fourth quarter after Gilgo intercepted a Wildcats’ pass.
“We pretty much did what we were coached to do,” said Futrell, who had the fumble recovery for a score, intercepted a pass, and racked up six tackles. “We read our responsibilities and got the job done.”
Also of note was the Pirates’ blocking on offense, especially a block by Hunter Jacobs on a 20-yard pass play that set Williams free, and an excellent outside block by Scott Houghteling on a Williams’ eight-yard run.
“It just shows how close this team is,” Davis said. “You have to love each other and do things when you don’t get credit, the little things, and this bunch has done that all season.”
The Pirates have one more conference game left in the regular season next week at Swansboro (4-6, 1-5) before heading into the playoffs with at least one home game should they prevail next Friday.
“We’re definitely on a roll,” said Futrell about the Pirates’ four-game winning streak. “It’s going to take a lot to stop us. If we stay healthy we’ll do some damage in the playoffs.”
Richlands 0-0- 6-0= 6
Topsail – Devin Williams 10 run (Alex Webster kick), 8:01
Topsail – Devin Williams 3 run (Alec Webster kick), 4:01
Topsail – Tyrekus Cooper 3 run (Kick failed), 0:29.5
Topsail – Devin Williams 23 run (Alex Webster kick), 9:10
Richlands – Kadarius McQueen 80 run (Pass failed), 1:05
Topsail – Addison Futrell 36 fumble return (Alec Webster kick), 0:51.0
Topsail – Austin Schoenleber 35 run (Alec Webster kick), 11:51
Team Statistics: Topsail Richlands
First downs 15 4
Rushing 43-210 26-116
Passing 6-9-55 5-16-41
Sacks 2-minus 13 1-minus 7
Penalties 4-30 4-20
Punts 2-49-23.5 5-133-26.6
Individual Statistics: Rushing – Topsail: Devin Williams 17-121, Drew Gaither 7-26, Hunter Jacobs 5-23, Tykerus Cooper 3-20, Josh Jessup 8-16, Drew Bagwell 1-3, Matt Gilgo 2-1. 3-20, Josh Jessup 8-16, Drew Bagwell 1-3, Matt Gilgo 2-1. Richlands: Kadarius McQueen 8-77, Ethan Horne 9-25, Daniel Negron 1-16, Quentin Fenn 2-11, Jamar Harrington 5-minus-7, Ladarius Marshall 1-minus-6. Passing – Topsail: Austin Schoenleber 6-9-55. Richlands: Jamar Harrington 4-10-41. Receiving – Topsail: Devin Williams 3-38, Mason Kimmel 1-14, Hunter Jacobs 1-10, Josh Jessup 1-minus-2. Richlands: Ladarius Marshall 2-36, Ethan Horne 1-6, Kadarius McQueen 1-minus 0-1, Daniel Negron 1-0. Defense – Topsail: Addison Futrell 6 tackles, fumble return for touchdown, interception; Matt Gilgo 5 tackles, interception; Scott Houghteling 7 tackles; Josh Jessup 4 tackles, sack for minus-7 yards; Jakeem Smith 6 tackles; Mason Kimmel 3 tackles. Richlands: Tyler Sanders 6 tackles; Jacob Williams 5 tackles; James Harrington 5 tackles; Kadarius McQueen 4 tackles; Kaleb McPherson 4 tackles; Devon Council 4 tackles; Ryan Marshall 4 tackles, sack for minus-6 yards; Jaqua Williams 3 tackles, sack for minus-3 yards.